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RU purchases virtual dissection table to use in science classes

Updated: Mar 30, 2022

Vivian Turner demonstrates the new dissection table.

Reported by Charles Aldrich and Dylan Campbell

Rochester University purchased a dissection table in Fall 2021 to help educate health science, nursing and psychology students about the intricacies of the human body without having to work on an actual dead human body.

The virtual dissection table transforms learning about anatomy and provides for work with virtual cadavers, which is a term referring to corpses used by medical students, physicians and other scientists.

Anatomage Inc., a California-based company, invented the anatomy table, which it bills as the “World’s First Virtual Dissection Table.” The company uses an “ecosystem of 3D anatomy hardware and software, allowing users to visualize anatomy at the highest level of accuracy,” according to

Vivian Turner, assistant professor of science and mathematics, said she started using the table in her anatomy classes during the spring semester. “The table gives students a chance to work on cadavers without having actual physical cadavers. It gives them a really good experience,” she said.

Turner said many schools, especially smaller ones, don’t have this type of equipment. “We’re in a minority of universities that have it.”

The anatomage table is basically a touch screen computer housed in a metal table that can be used horizontally or vertically. With this device, teachers can instruct students on the various parts and layers of the human body. Students can view all the systems of the body or can select individual organs to view, such as bones, muscles, the brain, the heart and much more.

“It basically gives them the ability to see the actual structure of the body. We can pull up any organ and see it in the body. They can dissect it. It helps them understand how everything is related. In the past, we only had photos to show these things, and now students can actually see how the parts work,” she said.

Students can “cut” on the body within the machine. in one recent lab, Turner and her students worked on the cardiovascular system. The students were able to virtually cut the top structure off of the heart, then they could see the heart beat underneath. They also could see how the valves work.

Turner is using the table in Anatomy I and II and Introduction to Human Anatomy and Physiology. Health science majors, such as pre-med, pre-physical therapy and pre-physician’s assistant, are required to take those classes. Nursing and psychology professors also plan to use the table in some of their classes. Psychology is starting a neuroscience major this fall.



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